Hosting a pirate party for your little buccaneer is a super fun birthday party theme for kids.
The Peanut had her first birthday party with friends in our new home’s backyard last weekend. Our birthday girl requested a pirate theme which presented just one small challenge: I know many of her sweet friends from school are not nearly as interested in pirates as she is. I had to carefully plan out the pirate birthday party to ensure everyone had a good time.
The best birthday parties for kids include:
- Kid-friendly snacks and treats that go with the party theme
- Adult-friendly snacks for the friends staying to join in the fun
- Simple games that keep things moving
How to host an easy pirate party for kids:
I quickly learned from our recent Valentine’s party that kids at parties are far more interested in playing & crafts than they are the food. All those fancy-dancy treats you see on Pinterest will go utterly to waste when it comes to kids age 6 and under.
Save your time and energy and use these simple pirate party ideas to keep the party snacks on theme.
Pirate-themed birthday treats for kids:
Kids are very simple snackers. They want foods they recognize but absolutely love fun packaging. I decided to serve:
- “Under the Sea” cupcakes: Simple box-mix cupcakes frosted with a swirl of blue-tinted buttercream and topped with a Swedish Fish candy. I baked them in red-and-white striped and blue polka-dotted cupcake wrappers to match the pirate theme.
- Goldfish crackers: Served in pirate beverage cups I picked up at the party supply store
- Fruit Swords: Strawberry and pineapple served on sword-shaped skewers
- Juice Boxes: You could add a pirate-themed sticker, or not.
Serving trick: Stagger the cupcakes and cups of Goldfish crackers on a cupcake serving tier for a fun presentation.
Pirate-themed birthday treats for the adults:
If your kids are young enough, it is likely the other parents will want to hang out at the party rather than do a drop-off. While kids are absolutely content with goldfish and fruit, you might want to serve a few fancier treats for the adults to enjoy, too.
I decided to go with a tropical food theme for the adult goodies. This may have been selfishly motivated, I was so excited to have other grown-ups to enjoy some party treats with me that I know the kids won’t touch!
- Roasted shrimp cocktail: This is one of my very favorite party appetizers. We serve it all year long.
- Cilantro lime ranch dip with sweet potato chips: This dressing recipe is one of my very favorites. Spicy, but not too-spicy and it goes so well with the sweet potatoes!
- Piña colada dip with fresh strawberries and pineapple: We had plenty of cupcakes to go around, but many adults prefer something a little more complex for their dessert. The coconut-pineapple combo is one of my favorites. Don’t forget the spicy gingersnap cookies to go with it!
All the treats can easily be made ahead of the party and just put out on serving trays minutes before everyone arrives. They are the perfect low-stress appetizers to share.
Easy-prep pirate party games for kids:
With the food all planned and out of the way, the next thing to prep ahead is a few simple pirate-themed party games for the kids to play. This is where we really had the most fun.
I stocked up on a few simple pirate-themed toys from Melissa & Doug and then turned them into super-easy games for the kids.
1. HIDDEN TREASURE GAME:
This was by far the kids’ favorite game. I bought this pirate’s treasure box and used all the little elements for different parts of the party.
I filled the treasure box with little baggies filled with the party goodies (plastic rings and assorted “pirate treasure” from the party store.) Then I hid the treasure box in the yard.
I planned out 6 spots around our yard where the kids would find clues leading one clue to the next until they found the box. We handed them the first clue and then let them run.
TIP: Be sure to hide the box far away from where the rest of the clues are so they don’t find it by accident. We put ours around the side of the house with most of the clues in the backyard.
2. FISH FOR TREASURE GAME:
I filled up our water table for the party and then dropped in all the plastic coins from the treasure chest set.
We “blindfolded” each player with a double-set of pirate eye patches and handed them a fishing net. They were each given a minute to try and catch as many coins with the net as they could.
Drop the coins back in the water before the next player. The one who catches the most coins wins.
Supplies we used:
- This fishing net
- Eye patch from this pirate costume
- Second eye patch and plastic coins from this treasure set
3. DRESS LIKE A PIRATE GAME:
Place a bunch of pirate costume pieces in a pile. Have the players sit in a circle around the clothing.
Each player rolls a pair of dice (or a single die depending on the age of the kids), when they roll the birthday pirate’s age, they jump up from the circle and try to get dressed in all the pirate costume pieces.
Meanwhile, the players in the circle continue to pass and roll the dice. When a player rolls the birthday number again, the dresser in the middle has to stop, take off all the costume pieces, and hand them to the next dresser.
Whoever gets all the costume places on and shouts “ARR, Mateys!” first wins.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published April 13, 2013 and was updated for clarity on January 27, 2020.